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“Luxury Hotel”

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Belmond Charleston Place
Ranked #13 of 62 Hotels in Charleston
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed November 5, 2012

The location is great. The lobby chandelier is stunning. Fitness center was important to us, and it is quite beautiful. Bedding was top-notch, and most appointments were at luxury scale, but we found little things frustrating, like somewhat poor lighting, spots on the shower curtain, not replacing shampoo.The basket of overpriced snacks in the room always seems tacky, but maybe that's just me. Bell staff and concierge were most pleasant and helpful. Self-pay parking (valet is an option, too) is inexpensive and convenient. Brunch was delicious, but at a cost equivalent to dinner at any of Charleston's best restaurants, it seemed a bit much. So overall, I'd say they got almost everything right, but for the price, it didn't completely blow us away.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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Thank jwberns
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed November 5, 2012

I apologize in advance for such a long review.

For our first visit to Charleston and in honor of a very special occasion, I booked as a splurge and a surprise for my significant other a Club Level One Bedroom Suite at the Charleston Place Hotel (Room 7C). I considered and reconsidered and wondered whether the room, the club level, and the hotel were the best choices. I read the reviews on all the major travel sites. I called CP and the other hotels with which I had reservations to speak to the sales agents and the concierges and I even contacted a local Charleston travel guide for help with the final decision. After all of this “research” (as I said, it was in honor of a truly special occasion), I went with CP rather than four other luxury hotels in downtown Charleston. Planter’s Inn offered me a free upgrade to the Governor’s Suite (breakfast included and delivered). French Quarter Inn has a fire place and a terrace big enough for 10 people, at a rate that was $300 less per night (breakfast included and delivered to your room). Market Pavilion has the most fun rooftop in Charleston and the doorman and concierge were ultra-accommodating and knowledgeable. Harbour View Inn was one that I had reserved and cancelled and gets very good reviews at about half the cost of CP.

What I was looking for was a hotel and service that would be exceptional, and overall provide that intangible quality where you feel welcome and attended to and so comfortable that you do not want to leave. That is the only reason why you splurge so much on an accommodation. It’s really hard to know what the experience of a hotel is going to be without having stayed and reviews of high-end properties rarely give the details that might tell one “yes, this is it.”
So, one is left with relying on instinct and the old adage “You get what you pay for”. You hope that if you spend the money (and the CP was the highest amount relative to the other luxury hotels at $815/night not inclusive of taxes and fees), then it will be worth it. In short, what you pay for is NOT always what you get and if I were to do it all over again, I would choose another property. Don't go back and forth and spend the time and effort makign this decision. At a lower price point, this would be a fine hotel. For exceptional service and a welcoming environment, look elsewhere.

In fairness, there was nothing bad about the hotel, per se. It just was not anything great. When you spend $2,000 for a hotel room for two nights, you have the right to expect that it is at least great. I have stayed at the better chain hotels that are more comfortable and accommodating.
I gave a lot of details below and hopefully it will give fellow travelers a good sense of what a stay at the hotel is like, both the pros and the cons.

Property and Hotel Common Areas: The façade is very pretty with lots of southern charm. It is all brick with a circular drive and very pretty fountains at both the front and the back entrance of the hotel. The main lobby has a great double-sided, winding staircase, as does the lobby that connects the two club floors (7 and 8). These are the best common area features. The hotel reception area and the retail stores are similar to what you would see in a marble-decked shopping mall these days and the lobby was otherwise outdated. The pool, spa, or retails shops are not reasons for choosing this hotel over a quainter hotel. The shops and restaurants are entirely accessible to the public and you can just as easily enjoy walking through the retail space in the hotel as through all the better retail shops outside of the hotel. The pool and spa are in need of some updating and refurbishing and certainly are not as pretty as they appear in the web site photos. The outdoor area off the pool also seemed to be a forgotten space. There were some lounge chairs placed about but no décor and no staff to be seen. The pool bar was not open while we were staying at the hotel and it was really nothing more than a counter top tucked in a corner. The stay (October 19-21) was during peak season for Charleston, and reservations were hard to come-by, so nothing should have been closed early or not staffed.

The Rooms: Even the club-level suites need updating and improvement. Throwing a flat screen TV and a docking station for i-Devices atop the furniture does not make a room comfortable or updated. The Juliet balcony has peeling paint. The furniture is beat-up. The rugs are dingy. The sheets are stained (and at the top, near the corner, where the housekeeping staff had to have seen it when they put the sheets on – not a little, light stain – but a huge dark stain). The overall size for a suite is small (by comparison, I paid $700 for a one bedroom suite at a Ritz Carlton in San Francisco and I could fit two of the CP suites inside this room). It wasn’t just the size, though, it was the layout. It was so awkward. The bed was in this tight space and the toilet was in an even tighter space and there were all these hallways and doorways. It took two calls on two different days to get a light bulb replaced next to the bathroom mirror. The lighting in the vanity mirror never did work. One can overlook all these things, though, as they do not greatly alter comfort level. However, the bed was the absolute worst bed on which I have ever slept. It is hard (not firm, but hard) and there is an egg crate on top of the mattress – a thin, useless egg crate, not a mattress topper. Lastly, the walls are paper thin. Aside from the annoying mechanical clicking coming from the vents when the HVAC system shut off, you could hear your upstairs neighbors if they so much as cleared their throats. And, you could hear any and every noise that was made by anyone in the hallways or in the surrounding rooms. I could not wait to get home to a real mattress and the relative quiet of a city condo building.

It may seem like I am nit-picking but truly none of these average amenities and “issues” would be reasons enough for me to write all this and decide to not stay at the hotel again. Here’s why I would choose another property at this price level. The CP rests on its laurels. It bills itself as Charleston’s premier luxury hotel, charges accordingly, and is neither the property nor the level of service of a premier hotel. It is one of those hotels where you check-in and are then anonymous. It is also one of those hotels that has it ways/policies and then says “no” to everything, with a smile of course. Check out is at noon. I asked for check-out at 1:00 pm and they said “no”. Keep in mind that if I had paid an additional $100 (on top of the $2,000 I had paid), I could have had a 3:00 pm check-out. We returned at 1:00 to find our hotel key deactivated. The bellman that opened the door stood at it until we gave the room a once over and rolled out our suitcases. Breakfast is served in the club lounge. I asked for breakfast as in-room dining (common with lots of hotels in the area) and was willing to pay a surcharge for it, and they said “no”. I asked for boxed lunches when a flight delay prevented us from being able to make it to our lunch reservation and still be able to keep a tour time, and they said “no” because it was not two-hour’s notice (it was only one hour’s notice; for turkey wraps).

The dedicated club-level concierge was absent. The concierge with whom I spoke on the phone and at the hotel gave the standard recommendations, but nothing I hadn’t been able to glean from Trip Advisor and nothing truly helpful. The club level does make available food and drinks at nearly any point during the day, but food is plenty in Charleston and the food offered on the club level was repetitive and not that good. There is the availability of alcoholic beverages and this might be worth it depending on how much you drink, but there are also plenty of stores around that sell bottles of wine and liquor. There is complimentary bottled water available in the club lounge but they charge you for water taken out of the room. The mini fridge was empty, except for two cans of soda, two sports drinks, and two Evian waters. I think that they forgot to stock it. The hotel food and beverage staff (waiters, waitresses, and bartenders) was very nice.

Location is fine but there really is not a bad location in all of downtown Charleston, on the east and close to Market Street and the water. The city is completely walkable. You don’t go to Charleston for the views, so a hop to a rooftop or a walk along the water will take care of the views for you. What you see off your balcony at the CP is the top of their roof (unfinished space) and a few buildings and steeples.

And, finally, to add insult to injury I left my iTouch in the docking station next to the bed and either the next guest or the housekeeping staff stole it. I called security the day after check-out and they were so nonchalant about it. I was friendly and calm, as I was the dunce who left it behind. But, I then even had to be patronizing so that I could get some help. They did not really explain if they were going to do any checking and before my asking them to check responded with a “nothing was turned in to lost and found”. They did not react with any urgency (45 minutes after my first call, I had to call the hotel back and the security agent had just confirmed with the front desk whether there was a guest registered to the room but had not gone to the room to look in the dock or check with the guest). The second day of calls and fourth person with whom I spoke (security supervisor) finally indicated that he would see who cleaned the room by using the card reader system and then check with that person. The only staff person who had entered was not due back at work until Friday (this was Tuesday) and the hotel had no way to reach him or her. They did not so much as utter an “I’m sorry”. The next guest after our check-out said they did not see anything on the dock, so it is likely that hotel staff claimed the item.

Bottom line – nothing special, just friendly enough, not comfortable, not worth the money, nothing that feels like “be our guest and we are happy to have you here”. I think it would have been a warmer, more special trip at another hotel. Go for service somewhere else. It makes me hesitant to book at any Orient-Express property, such as the one in Iguassu Brazil where we are headed in January. It has all the same glitzy web site photos and language but I have heard it all before.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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4  Thank Bernadette F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CharlestonPlace, General Manager at Belmond Charleston Place, responded to this reviewResponded November 8, 2012

Dear Bernadette F,

Thank you for taking time to share feedback on your visit. While it is not easy to read reviews when guests have an inconsistent experience, it is very helpful for our business to hear regularly from our customers. I would like to apologize for your disappointment with your stay. This is certainly not the impression we want to make, since we want all of our guests to be repeat guests. I am also very sorry to hear that you seem to have accidentally left an item in your guest room.

We understand that it can be easy to forget items while packing, so we ask our bell staff to double-check that guests have packed all of their belongings. We also have a procedure in place to have all lost items turned immediately into our security office where they can be safely stored and we can investigate to find the owner of the item. Our associates are some of the finest hospitality professionals in the world and I can assure you that none of them would take an item from a guest room on purpose.

I believe you have spoken to our Director of Security, and we have investigated this incident. We have questioned everyone who had access to this guest room, searched the room and checked all of the security logs for your missing item. Unfortunately, nothing has been turned in. Incidents, such as this one, are very rare and we always do everything possible to find and return lost items. We are a large hotel with many public shops and restaurants located in our hotel and have many lost and found items every day. Our Security staff does everything possible to research and investigate all of these claims.

Again, I apologize for your disappointment and hope you were still able to enjoy your time in Charleston.

Sincerely,
Paul Stracey
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 5, 2012

Booked request for king bed but given 2 doubles. Apparently no availability. I guess booking on hotels.com gets you the lowest priority at this establishment. Moved us to a junior suite 1 day later without informing us that it was handicap accessible room. Ordered breakfast room service to arrive between 8:30-9, but shows up at 7:45. Housekeeping shows up at 8 AM ? What the heck. Hey guys, get your act together.

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  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled with friends
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1  Thank F00die56
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CharlestonPlace, General Manager at Belmond Charleston Place, responded to this reviewResponded November 9, 2012

Dear F00die56,
Thanks for choosing to stay with us during your recent visit to Charleston. I appreciate you taking time to share a review of your experience at Charleston Place. Not only are these reviews helpful to your fellow travelers, but it's extremely valuable to our hotel in gauging whether guests are satisfied with our property and the service we deliver.

I'm truly sorry for your disappointment during your recent stay. Our front desk team would have willingly accommodated your request for a king bed, however, the hotel has been sold out, as it is a very busy travel season in Charleston. I apologize for your inconvenience; however, I am very glad that we were able to upgrade you to a suite on your second night. I am also sorry for your disappointment with Room Service. Please know that I will share your comments with the appropriate managers to make sure this does not happen in the future.

We would love the opportunity to provide you with the type of experience you were hoping for when you booked with Charleston Place. If your future travel plans bring you back to Charleston, please contact me in advance so that I can personally arrange for your accommodations.
Sincerely,
Paul Stracey
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 3, 2012

I spent four nights in one of this hotel's club level rooms. It was a fantastic stay. The room was a good size, very quiet and comfortable, and the staff were all excellent. The club level food and drink is a real plus, and we had breakfast there every morning. We would also have a glass of champagne before heading our for dinner and the normally take a cookie to bed! All those calories were burned off in the very nice salt-water swimming pool most days.

The location is very central with lots of shops and restaurants on the doorstep.

All in all, it is hard to find fault with this hotel. It isn't cheap, but it is absolutely worth the money.

Stayed: November 2012, traveled with friends
1  Thank Michael R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 2, 2012

This hotel is awesome! We booked it on a luxurylink package which didn't disappoint. Stayed in a junior suite, room is huge with a great sitting area. The hotel is in an excellent location, right in the middle of the action between the market and king street shopping. We ate breakfast at the hotel which was wonderful, and got drinks at the Charelston Grill. Best martinis! Was sad to leave the hotel. Totally recommend.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Elisabeth24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 29, 2012

I wouldn't normally stay at this type of hotel but I was very pleased. The room was very upscale with several nice amenitities. We dined at other places so I wasn't able to try their food. However, if you're looking for a special place, I'd certainly consider this.

  • Stayed: October 2012, traveled on business
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Thank Woodstock1968
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 27, 2012

We were so excited about our first trip to Charleston. Decided to stay in this "special" hotel, which was very expensive. We were very excited. Room was beautiful; however, noticed mold on the ceiling, which was wiped off after we "complained." Next day more mold was back and we were told we could move if we wanted to. We chose to and room was also a king balcony; however, was twice the size. Asking if it was less money, one word answer was "no." No one even expressed any kind of concern and seemed more irritated than anything as "no one had ever complained about mold on the ceiling before." Very disappointed. Will keep going to Savannah. First and last trip to Charleston.

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank GKA56
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CharlestonPlace, General Manager at Belmond Charleston Place, responded to this reviewResponded October 29, 2012

Dear GKA56,

Thank you for your recent review of Charleston Place. I apologize for the issue you encountered during your stay. This is certainly not the impression we want to make, since we want all of our guests to be repeat guests. As you've read in previous review responses, we always empower our associates to assist in problem solving, so I am sorry that we did not perceive your problem as being as serious as it was to you. However, I am glad that we were able to move you to a different room and hope that you were able to enjoy your remaining time in Charleston.

Thank you again for taking the time to write your review. I sincerely, appreciate you bringing this matter to my attention. We value your feedback and I will personally address these issues with the appropriate departments. We would love the opportunity to provide you with the type of experience you were hoping for when you booked with Charleston Place. Please contact me directly when planning your next trip to Charleston so that I can personally arrange for your accommodations.

Sincerely,
Paul Stracey
General Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Belmond Charleston Place

Address: 205 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29401-3110
Phone Number:
Location: United States > South Carolina > Coastal South Carolina > Charleston
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#3 Business Hotel in Charleston
#4 Spa Hotel in Charleston
#9 Family Hotel in Charleston
#10 Romantic Hotel in Charleston
#11 Luxury Hotel in Charleston
Price Range: $341 - $698 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Belmond Charleston Place 5*
Number of rooms: 434
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Historic Charleston’s premier hotel just steps from famous homes, museums and churches. World-class luxurious accommodations including European spa; rooftop pool; “The Club,” a private concierge level located on the top two floors; multiple award-winning restaurants; 20 exclusive boutiques and the legendary Belmond service, all in the heart of downtown. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Charleston Place By Orient-Express Hotel Charleston
Place Hotel Charleston
Charleston Place Hotel

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